As a retired Deputy District Attorney who worked in the Consumer/Environmental Protection Division of the Napa District Attorney’s Office for 26 years (1986-2012), I’m am well acquainted with the compelling need for new leadership in that office.
The incumbent, Gary Lieberstein, is far more interested in taking vacations, going to elaborate conferences in choice locations, glad handing at meetings of local groups, and otherwise running for office 24/7, rather than running and effectively managing the office for which he was elected.
That he spends anywhere from six to ten weeks per year on vacations has been common knowledge among employees of the office because Gary would inform the employees about his vacations when he got back from them. You see, the office holds a once per week meeting at which all the attorneys are required to attend. The purpose of these meetings is to make sure the next week's upcoming trials and preliminary hearings have full coverage, to update the attorneys with the latest case law that can affect their cases, and to make necessary announcements. However, it was common at these meetings for Gary to tell the attorneys in the office about how his most recent vacation went.
That wasn't all. Gary would also spend significant time at these meetings telling the attorneys about the latest conference he attended. Gary attended lots of conferences, in such choice California locations as Lake Tahoe, Monterey, San Diego and Palm Springs, and in national locations like Arizona, South Carolina and Washington D.C., all on the public dime. Each conference could last anywhere from 3 to 5 days, and Gary would attend probably 6-10 per year. It was common for him to tell the employees at the weekly meeting what famous person (e.g. the governor, the attorney general) he met at the latest conference.
Finally, that Gary spends a great deal of time out of the office attending meetings of local groups, where he would make numerous contacts to help him when he runs for office, has also been common knowledge. It is also why he has amassed such a huge war chest for this election (in excess of $135,000). Local officials do not raise that kind of money unless they have lots of time to do so.
In short, Gary probably spent anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of his time (13 to 17 weeks!) vacationing, going to conferences, and making political connections at local meetings, while earning a high salary footed by taxpayers. As a result, the office has sorely lacked leadership, employee morale has been dismal, and conviction statistics have been falling. Clearly, it's time for a new District Attorney, one who spends more time effectively managing the office.
In stark contrast to Gary is candidate Tom Kensok. He is an ideal choice to be Napa County's chief law enforcement officer for numerous reasons. First, he's been a prosecutor for over 25 years so he knows what it takes to successfully prosecute cases. Second, and just as important, he has management experience, having supervised the gang and murder units at the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. Thus, he already has the necessary skills to effectively supervise and manage an office. Third, based upon my contacts with employees of the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, Tom has terrific people skills, which in turn help make him a better manager and supervisor. These are the qualities we should look for in electing a district attorneyI hope you all will join me in supporting Tom Kensok for D.A.